Qalandiya CP 7.3.2011 PM
When we spoke with one another on Monday morning we more or less agreed that there was very little to accomplish at the checkpoints. Although they are still dirty and repulsive, and the behavior of the soldiers often leaves a lot to be desired (to say the least), the checkpoints do seem to function somehow and our presence does not usually add (or detract).
And then we arrived at Qalandiya at 3:30 PM and, as if in a recurrent nightmare, we saw all three passageways packed with people waiting to go to Jerusalem and the turnstiles operating in a miserly manner, opening only to let people through one by one. Those on line complained to us that they had been waiting for hours already (one said he had been waiting for 2 hours and another said 3), that they were sick and tired of such treatment, and how could anyone treat human beings in such a manner? Natanya and I made endless phone calls to Headquarters and to the Humanitarian Hotline, but nothing seemed to make a difference. However, by about 4:15, it looked as though some progress was being made. And then the western-most terminal, for bus passengers with blue ID cards, was closed and another 100 people came running to the CP and filled the passageways up again. The line continued out into the northern shed and got longer and longer. Why was the bus passageway closed? No one seemed to know, not even the bus driver whom we asked. But several people told us that conditions on Monday were far better than they had been on Sunday, and that today's lines were much shorter than the ones they had seen yesterday.
In one of the lines we met a man from Givat Mikhmash who held a permit to enter Israel. He was trying to deliver produce to a shop keeper in Givat Ze'ev (an Israeli settlement near Jerusalem). He told us that his permit was no good for Bethlehem or Zeitim Passage, but he had managed to get through Qalandiya several times in the past. But not yesterday – the soldiers in the aquarium refused to let him through. We called to the DCO representative, Taha, but that was no help either. Taha told him that he had just been lucky to date and that he needed another permit. Ali, who is well into his fifties if not older, was angry and waved his two valid permits in our faces, asking rhetorically how many permits a person needed.
In the DCO passageway we met Ma'amoun, a young man who didn't know how he could get his mother, who is suffering from cancer, to Augusta Victoria Hospital where she was invited for treatment while he is denied entrance to Jerusalem as a security risk. The Civil Rights Hotline told us to send him to Physicians for Human Rights which we did this morning.
We left Qalandiya at 5:15 PM and joined a long line of vehicles on the road through A-Ram to Lil/Jabba CP and from there to Hizmeh CP. There was nothing much to report.